There have been some huge and surprising political events since our last policy update: a snap general election has been called, fought and won – just about – and a new Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been drafted in. We're now into a two-year parliamentary session dealing with all things 'Brexit', which includes separate Agriculture and Fisheries Bills. But Parliament is currently in its summer recess, so we can afford to take a moment to pause and reflect.
And what better way to do that than analysing some freshly collated survey data in the sunshine?! Back in January, the Society launched a survey of its registered environmental professionals to find out more about the experience, knowledge and opinions of this diverse group of experts. The survey closed in May and our team has since been reviewing the results.
We included a number of questions on 'green issues' - salient matters on the environmental policy horizon. Of course, being developed just a few months after the referendum result to leave the EU, the survey asked questions around Brexit, which was not only salient but marked by an even greater degree of uncertainty than now. Asked about the major EU environmental laws to be replaced, we found that respondents' policy priorities were evenly spread. Rated on a scale of 1-10, all the options averaged around 5. The vertical axis of the following chart is stretched around point 5 to magnify the results.
Policy Priorities for Government Post-Brexit
Focusing on the fundamental issue underpinning questions about Brexit next steps, survey respondents were asked about their views on regulation more generally. We found overwhelming support for regulation, both for ‘ordinary people’ and for industry, as these charts demonstrate:
Environmental Laws for Ordinary People
Environmental Laws for Industry
These views are, of course, subject to change, particularly in light of the significant policy changes on the horizon. The scale and pace of the change post-Brexit has allowed scope for much debate and speculation, and these survey results capture our respondents’ insights at one point in time.
These results may provide the foundation for more in-depth policy work – for example on the future of environmental regulation – and they will certainly provide the starting point for tracking environmental professionals’ views as they may change over time.
The Society will conduct its survey of environmental professionals annually, repeating some areas of questioning to generate longitudinal data while also responding to ‘live’ policy issues for greater, and statistically significant, insight.
Keep an eye out for further snippets of our survey results in the coming weeks! The full report will be available for download from our website in mid-September.
The Society would like to thank all of our survey respondents as well as those Licensed Bodies’ members of staff that helped to distribute the survey.
Dr Tatum Matharu, Policy and Parliamentary Lead.